Every Couple’s Dream
Paul Servat, 35, and his girlfriend, Barbara Bienvenue, 37 of Quebec, Canada, had only been dating for two months when Bienvenue found out that she was pregnant. In September 2013, Bienvenue informed Servat that they would be having not one but FIVE babies.
That’s right, Bienvenue was pregnant with quintuplets! And they couldn’t have been more excited. After they told their family and friends the exciting news, the couple set up a social media page so that they could keep everyone up to date on Bienvenue’s pregnancy.
Many people from around the community began donating items like baby clothes and furniture to help the expectant parents.
Bienvenue even let Servat pick out the names for the babies—the two were ecstatic about becoming parents!
There’s something wrong.
That March, when Bienvenue was 34 weeks pregnant, Servat took her to the CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal to give birth. After they arrived at the hospital, Servat received some heartbreaking news.
A hospital employee informed Servat that Bienvenue would not be delivering the babies that day or anytime soon because she wasn’t actually pregnant. Wait…WHAT?! In fact, the hospital had no documentation regarding Bienvenue’s pregnancy, and a blood test confirmed that Bienvenue wasn’t pregnant at all!
Servat was completely shocked and devastated by the news. Then, to make matters worse, one of Bienvenue’s relatives came forward and admitted that this was not the first time that Bienvenue had pulled a stunt like this. In 2010, she had lied to an ex-boyfriend about being pregnant.
“This isn’t the first time she’s done it,” said a male relative who wished to remain anonymous. “But honestly, we never would have thought she was sick enough to do it again.”
A Terrible Trend
The family also told the QMI Agency that Bienvenue had faked leukemia and other illnesses in the past. “She cut ties with us in recent months,” said the relative. “She didn’t want us to know about her game.”
Although Servat was completely blindsided by the stunt, a woman by the name of Genevieve Laflamme admitted she wasn’t the least bit surprised. As an experienced mother, Laflamme had been advising Bienvenue throughout her so-called pregnancy, but it wasn’t long before she became suspicious of Bienvenue’s story.
Laflamme is a mother of triplets, so she’s familiar with the characteristics and symptoms associated with carrying multiple children. For example, if Bienvenue had truly been pregnant with five children, she would have been on bed rest long before her due date. Understandably, Laflamme had kept her hunch to herself and given Bienvenue the benefit of the doubt.
“I gave her tips on how to handle it, where to get financial support, where to get sponsors for diapers,” Laflamme told CTV.
Coming To Terms
Servat is still coming to terms with the harsh realization that he will not be a father to quintuplets. In order to correct the situation to the best of his ability, Servat immediately removed the couple’s social media page and began returning or donating the items that they had received for their nursery.
“I’m a good person,” Servat stressed. “I have nothing to do with these lies.”
Bienvenue remained at the hospital for psychiatric observation following the incident. “Doctors need to take care of her or else she’ll do it again and again,” said one of her male relatives.
But is there more to this story? Was Bienvenue simply “pretending” to be pregnant or did she actually believe she was?
It’s possible she was suffering from pseudocyesis, or phantom pregnancy. This is a condition wherein women experience symptoms similar to pregnancy, such as a swollen belly and morning sickness, without an actual fetus being present.
Although doctors do not fully understand pseudocyesis or what causes it, psychological factors are most likely at the root. When a woman wants so desperately to become pregnant, her body may actually “trick” itself into believing that it is. Her belly swells, her breasts enlarge, and sometimes even fetal movement can be felt.
Once the brain convinces her that she’s pregnant, the woman can experience these symptoms along with many others such as the interruption of the menstrual cycle, milk production, and nausea. However, a urine pregnancy test will always be negative in these cases and of course no fetus will be present in an ultrasound.
There are some medical conditions that can also be responsible for pregnancy symptoms including ectopic pregnancy, morbid obesity, and certain types of cancer. Phantom pregnancies can also be triggered by a trauma such as the death of a spouse or multiple miscarriages.
Losing Touch With Reality
Dealing with the reality of a phantom pregnancy is heartbreaking for the couple, however some simply refuse to believe scientific fact. While a “cryptic” pregnancy in the mainstream means a pregnancy that the woman isn’t aware of, there is a subculture of people who believe it to be a pregnancy where there are no medical signs or symptoms of any kind.
These people believe that gestations can last as long as two to five years due to the “slow growth of the fetus.”
These women do not seek out doctors or medical advice, but instead turn to support groups to share their stories and chart their progress. They warn that if you go to a hospital you’ll be diagnosed with IBS, UTIs, and other medical conditions that will explain away the pregnancy.
One such couple even stated that their fetus was a miracle since the father does not have testicles and cannot produce sperm. The mother still has not given birth to this miracle fetus—after several years of “pregnancy.”